Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


It's a fact: too much biltong, sausages and bacon cause cancer

27 October 2015, 12:16

Eating processed meats like hot dogs, biltong, sausages or bacon can lead to bowel cancer in humans and red meat is a likely cause of the disease, World Health Organisation (WHO) experts said.

The review by the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), released on Monday 25 October, put processed meat in its group 1 list, which also includes tobacco and asbestos, for which there is "sufficient evidence" of cancer links.

Red meat was classified as probably carcinogenic in IARC's group 2A list, to which it has also added this year glyphosate, the active ingredient in many weedkillers.

Meat industry groups rejected the findings as simplistic, although some scientists said they may not add much to existing health recommendations to limit consumption of such meat.

The IARC was carrying out a formal review of meat for the first time and examined some 800 studies during a meeting of 22 health experts in France earlier in October 2015.

"For an individual, the risk of developing colorectal (bowel) cancer because of their consumption of processed meat remains small, but this risk increases with the amount of meat consumed," Dr Kurt Straif of the IARC said in a statement.

Each 50 gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent, the agency estimated.

The classification for red meat - defined as all types of mammalian meat, including beef, lamb and pork - reflected "limited evidence" that it causes cancer. The IARC found links mainly with bowel cancer, but it also observed associations with pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer.

Inconclusive evidence of a link between processed meat and stomach cancer was also observed, it said.

The IARC does not compare the level of cancer risk associated with different substances in a given category, so does not suggest eating meat is as dangerous as smoking, for example.

But the bracketing of processed meat with products such as tobacco or arsenic irked industry groups, with the North American Meat Institute saying the IARC report "defies common sense".

Suppliers argue that meat provides essential protein, vitamins and minerals as part of a balanced diet.

"We've known for some time about the probable link between red and processed meat, and bowel cancer," Professor Tim Key of Oxford University said in a statement from charity Cancer Research UK.

"Eating a bacon bap every once in a while isn't going to do much harm - having a healthy diet is all about moderation."

The IARC, however, said such dietary advice often focused on heart disease and obesity.

It cited an estimate from the Global Burden of Disease Project - an international consortium of more than 1,000 researchers - that 34,000 cancer deaths per year worldwide are attributable to diets high in processed meat.

This compares with about 1 million cancer deaths per year globally due to tobacco smoking and 600,000 a year due to alcohol consumption, it said.

“For an individual, the risk of developing colorectal cancer because of their consumption of processed meat remains small, but this risk increases with the amount of meat consumed,” says Dr Kurt Straif, Head of the IARC Monographs Programme. “In view of the large number of people who consume processed meat, the global impact on cancer incidence is of public health importance.”

Red meat refers to all types of mammalian muscle meat, such as beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse, and goat.

Processed meat refers to meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavour or improve preservation.

Most processed meats contain pork or beef, but processed meats may also contain other red meats, poultry, offal, or meat by-products such as blood. Examples of processed meat include hot dogs (frankfurters), ham, sausages, corned beef, and biltong or beef jerky as well as canned meat and meat-based preparations and sauces.

Why do they cause cancer?

The chemicals, high temperature cooking (such as braaiing) and increased nitrates are all suspects when it comes to the cancer causing agents, but scientists don't know which of these is the actual culprit. As yet scientists also have no proof either way whether cheap, mass produced processed meat is better or worse than refined, home-smoked or -cured foods. 

- Reuters


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...